Baking spareribs is not hard to do. It is a simple dish that can be enjoyed any time of the year. It all begins with selecting the type of ribs to be cooked.
Always select meaty ribs. Spareribs are cut from the bottom section of the ribs and breastbone of a pig. Baby back ribs are popular, and are the ribs cut from the top of the pig’s ribs along the back. Baby back ribs are smaller in size and generally more expensive than spareribs. Baby back ribs have more meat to bone ratio, and some consider them to be tenderer than spareribs. Whichever you select, make sure the slab of ribs is not too large to fit into your cooking pan or grill. Purchase an average of 1 to 1 ½ pounds of meat per person being served. A slab of ribs will generally serve 2 to 2 ½ people.
Preparing Spareribs for Cooking
Preparing the ribs for cooking is easy. Rinse the ribs carefully, and remove the thin membrane on the back of the spareribs. Using a small knife, carefully cut into the membrane and pull it away from the meat.
The next thing to do is to add flavor to the ribs. Use a dry rub to put on the meat. Dry rubs are generally made from paprika (to add a smoky flavor), sugar, onion powder, and other spices to add more flavor. Liberally rub the spices into the meat and let sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours. If letting the ribs marinate in the dry rub overnight, make sure you do not add salt to the rub. When ready to cook, sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.
Spareribs cook for 2 to 4 hours at 300 degrees in the oven, depending on the size of the ribs. Large ribs need more time to cook, and the smaller baby back ribs will cook for the least amount of time. If cooking the ribs at 350 degrees, average approximately 1 ½ hours of cooking time for medium sized ribs. The ribs should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees for medium doneness, 170 to 190 degrees to be well done.
The best method of cooking is to place the ribs on a rack inside a baking dish or pan that is lined with foil. This will allow the oil to drip off the ribs as they are cooking. Cover the ribs while they are in the oven. Baste the ribs in their juices occasionally. Turn the ribs at least once during the cooking time. Remove the foil cover the last few minutes of cooking to brown the ribs.
Dry Spareribs vs. Wet Spareribs
Ribs that are served without sauce are considered “dry”, and when sauce is added the ribs are “wet”. For wet ribs, the meat is basted with sauce the last ½ hour of cooking, and the sauce is also served on the side. Sauces range from savory to sweet, mild to hot. Adding the sauce at the beginning of cooking can result in burned sauce. A basic sauce is made from a base of ketchup for the tomato taste, vinegar for a tangy taste, sugar (light and brown) to add sweetness, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Other spices are added to taste, and people love to work on mastering their own signature sauces.
Cut the ribs along the bone for serving. Spareribs are a messy finger-food, but so good to eat.
Informative web sites:
Cooks.com: Oven Baked Spare Ribs